Designing a good search box isn't difficult. So why do so many sites feature such poor search boxes?

We have boxes with unnecessary words and instructions:

We have cluttered, fussy-looking designs:

We have invented icons for activation buttons, when words almost always work better:

We have tiny entry fields with subtle and poorly-located activation buttons:

Worse, we have sites that don't even place the search box on the page, but rather make us navigate to it:

Why make such a simple thing so complicated? Just give your customers a nice long entry field (say 25-30+ characters) followed by a button labeled “Search”, like this:

If the button above looks too generic and under-designed, go ahead and create one that fits in better with your company's branding and site design. But please label it “Search”, place it to the right of the entry field, and make it obviously clickable.